NAU soccer traveled to Cedar City, Utah on Friday to take on the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. Despite a slow first half, both teams scored two goals each in the second, with junior defender Madison Montgomery being the difference maker by scoring a brace for the Lumberjacks.
The Lumberjacks won their previous matchup against Weber State, 1-0. The Thunderbirds had just secured their first win of the season against Benedictine University at Mesa, in a March 14 6-0 thrashing.
Outside of a brief defensive stand right from kickoff, the Lumberjacks opened the game on the attack, spending plenty of time on the Thunderbirds’ side of the field. After five minutes, the Thunderbirds settled in and the two teams traded turns on the attack. NAU was much more reliant on building up their attack and making passes to set up good shots, while Southern Utah's attacks were almost all through balls trying to put an attacker into space.
The two teams could not ever quite finish up the attacks, with NAU managing the only shot on goal through the first 20 minutes. Montgomery broke the deadlock, and from there the Lumberjacks were off and running. NAU’s offense woke up after the goal, finishing the half with five shots on goal while the Thunderbirds only managed one, which required an excellent save by senior goalkeeper Taryn Benham. The Lumberjacks relied on their defense and had only conceded a goal to one team this season.
Southern Utah would even the score on a penalty kick by sophomore wing Kamryn Farro early in the second half won from a foul by senior defender Emma Robson. The NAU offense continued to hold the majority of possession, but with little results. The team could not get the ball past Southern Utah junior goalkeeper Jennifer Kovisto. After a series of near-misses, the Lumberjacks finally broke through when senior midfielder Kayla Terhune found her way through three defenders and put a low shot past Kovisto.
The work was not done for the Lumberjacks, which they were reminded of just seconds after Terhune's goal when Benham was forced to make a save off the line with attackers approaching. Though Benham managed the save, Southern Utah would score another goal, tying the game at two by a cross that found its way to junior defender Rachael Hunt.
The Thunderbirds were still on their back foot with just 20 minutes remaining. Both teams had opportunities, but the score remained even thanks to some heroic defending. With 10 minutes to go, a Lumberjack went down in the box, setting up a penalty kick. Montgomery stepped up and calmly put the ball in the bottom corner.
The Lumberjacks did not let their attack die out again and continued to pressure the Southern Utah net and never allowed the Thunderbirds to mount an offensive. The last-second attack for the Thunderbirds did not result in a shot attempt and NAU walked away victorious.
The Lumberjacks improve to 3-1 and will face the Thunderbirds again on Saturday in Cedar City at 11 a.m.